Today was a special one. I met several cycle tourers, saw my first Pronghorn Antelope and also an Osprey chick sitting in its nest!
I set off in anticipation of rain and a long slow uphill drag into the wind. Knowing I'd struggle to make West Yellowstone today even in good conditions, and knowing the weather there was set to be the worst, I prebooked a cabin at the Driftwaters Resort a little over halfway between Ennis and West Yellowstone.
You'll see from the photo, that rain was definitely in the air, and I got caught in two rainstorms. Neither lasted too long so I managed to dry out again after each.
Spotting the first antelope surprised me because I didn't even know they were around this neck of the woods, . They're far more colourful than any of the native deer. In fact they looked particularly impressive as they fled majestically away from the feeble lens that comes with this PlayBook.
Next, I could see one of those B&Q Osprey platforms. Sited about 50 yards from the side of the road, I could see it had a nest on it, then as I drew level, the chick sitting upright looking around. What a brilliant sight. I couldn't help thinking that were this site in the UK the egg would never have hatched. Instead it would likely be in some sad egg collector's sorry collection. Thank goodness people have more respect for their wildlife here. Either that or they don't make good eatin'.
The next surprise was seeing a fellow cycle tourer coming down a hill towards me. The first I'd seen since Joe in Hamilton.
Mark is from Germany and supports Borussia Dortmund, so I guess that's where he's from. He set off from Miami and is riding along wherever the mood fancies, his general direction now being into Canada. We swapped stories so far, and I got some great advice from him on where to stay and how to behave around the animals in Yellowstone. He also warned me about the dogs in Missouri. His next stop Ennis, then a 110 mile ride to meet up with trail friends in Helena the next day.
Just 10 minutes later, as I was riding up a small hill, I heard this whooping and hollering. I could see some brightly coloured shapes at the top. The shapes slowly turned into a group of cyclists. In fact it was a family who were doing the TransAmerica like me, only from left to right. Oh, and in 600 mile chunks.
The family group consisted of mum, dad, son, daughter and Aunty (?). They had a tandem and three bikes between them. Dad and daughter riding the tandem. Dad explained they first started when the kids were very small. I think he said the youngest was two. They used a quad bicycle, which mum helpfully interjected, is a bike with 4 seats!
Now, to be fair, maybe that last morsel of sarcasm is unwarranted. To her, in my dishevelled and tired-looking state, I possibly bore more than a passing resemblance to Michael, the character played by John Mills in David Lean's classic film Ryan's Daughter. He wasn't known for his high intellect.
So I bade them farewell but not before them telling me that just a little further on from where I'd be stopping for the night, they'd been caught in a traffic jam. One caused by Bison crossing the road with their young calves in town. Bison are not to be approached, and certainly not when they have their calves with them.
They'd also seen a Grizzly Bear, again showing no consideration for traffic flow, eating grass (or more likely dandelions) on the grass verge. Another animal worth politely waiting for it to move on, respecting where a cyclist fits in the food chain round here. On saying that, I think someone should tell these Grizzlies that opening a can (RV or car) would usually result in a more filling meal.
Anyway I arrived safe, sound and ravenous at the Driftwaters Resort. Only to discover from a fedora wearing woman (later to become Shannon the barmaid and waitress) inside that the restaurant is closed until 4pm. w***!
Time to check-in and check out my cabin. All good, a hot bath, then eat.
To be continued... Off to the restaurant I go...
The meal was lovely, a beet salad with homemade 4-cheese ravioli.
So, to cut a very long story short I ended up staying for four nights due to very bad weather in the park (Yellowstone for those not in the know).
I got to know the owners, Rachel and Jerry very well. Also Shannon the barmaid (sorry Shannon, just winding you up). The food continued to be first class thanks to Ashley's cooking skills (Cordon Bleu trained).
Everyone made me feel extremely welcome, in fact I felt like I was part of one big family by the time I was leaving. Rachel was very generous in giving me a discount on the stay too. Altogether a brilliant place to stay and lovely people.
I also shared some beers with a guy called Jamie who was staying for a few days. Jamie was retired and travelling with his pickup and caravan around the USA fishing and chilling. Jamie kindly gave me a lift to West Yellowstone.